Five new writers - three who live in Southern California, one in Brooklyn and one in Oregon - were selected to receive the 1998 Don and Gee Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy Foundation. The prestigious competition awarded $25,000 to each winner. In addition, they were honored at a gala dinner on November 12, 1998 at which Academy AwardTM winner Curtis Hanson delivered the keynote address.
The scripts were selected by the Nicholl Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd and comprised of writers John Gay, Hal Kanter, Dan Petrie Jr., Frank Pierson, Tom Rickman and Daniel Taradash, cinematographer John Bailey, editor Mia Goldman, actor Eva Marie Saint, producer Peter Samuelson, director Robert E. Wise and agent Michael Zimring.
The Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting were established in 1985. The competition was open to any individual who had not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $1,000 or received a fellowship or prize that included a "first look" clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer's work.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during the fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.
The 1998 competition drew a record 4,446 entries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 21 countries. Since the program's inception, a total of 53 fellowships have been presented and several recipients have gone on to successful careers in screenwriting. Susannah Grant (a 1992 Fellow) wrote this year's "Ever After: A Cinderella Story," and also had writing credit on Disney's "Pocahontas." "Down in the Delta," written by 1993 Fellow Myron Goble, screened at the Toronto Film Festival and Mark Lowenthal's "Where the Elephant Sits" received its world premiere at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival; Lowenthal was a 1989 Fellow. During 1997, four fellows received credit on theatrically-released feature films: Max Adams ("Excess Baggage"), Andrew Marlowe ("Air Force One"), Randall McCormick ("Speed 2") and Jim McGlynn ("Traveller").